The Journey series
Our society tends to view wealth as material possessions. The next few Mustard Seeds will argue through anecdotes that real wealth lies in faith, hope, love, truth, beauty, goodness, and community. Material wealth is merely a tool. If we rely on wealth to bring us happiness we become its slave. When we focus on things we lose sight of true wealth.
I grew up one of five children of a single mom. Needless to say, we didn’t have many things. Yet we were happy. The sun came up, the flowers bloomed, and the birds sang. We could go out to play and explore safely.
I enjoyed school and learning. As long as one of us had a peewee football, dozens of us could fill our mornings, recesses, and lunch with joy. After school my friend and I could hoist anchor and set sail in a cardboard box. One day we’d be pirates, the next we’d cast our nets and catch a thousand fish.
One summer I found a block of wood by a construction site. I added boards and nails I rescued from a discarded wooden apple crate and built a Safeway store with rooftop parking. I painted the walls Safeway pink and applied black-paint asphalt paving to the ramp and roof. The white paint turned a little greyer with each parking stall I lined out. I fashioned bits of wood into cars of the proper scale, retooling my assembly line to produce station wagons once I figured out they were easier to carve than sedans. I turned a larger block into a delivery truck. I designated a police car and an ambulance, though only I was able to distinguish them from the other vehicles. The wheel-less blocks didn’t fire across the floor as impressively or predictably as Hot Wheels, but I still preferred my vehicles. The less imagination one uses, the less they’ll have, and there’s no accomplishment in Hot Wheels.
In my childhood I didn’t know what I didn’t have. I had plenty without having much. Clearly, it wasn’t things that kept me happy. I never missed things until I learned they were. Today we’ve lost that innocence. Today we need many things that, not long ago, existed only in science fiction.
Next week: Still Wealth.
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Peter T Elliott